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Fish Consumption Guidelines

What are these Guidelines and what are the Risks?

These guidelines were designed to protect you from experiencing health problems associated with eating contaminated fish.  PCBs, methylmercury, chlordane, DDE/DDD, and dieldrin build up in your body over time.  It may take months or years of regularly eating contaminated fish to accumulate levels which would affect your health.

It is important to keep in mind that these consumption recommendations are based on health-risk calculations for someone eating fish with similar contamination over a period of 30 years or more.

Current statistics indicate that cancer will affect one in every four people nationally, primarily due to smoking, diet, and hereditary risk factors.  If you follow Georgia's consumption guidelines, the contaminants in the fish you eat may not increase your cancer risk at all.  At worst, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's estimates of contaminant potency, your risk of cancer from fish consumption should be less than 1 in 10,000.

The consumption advice provided in this booklet is developed in a conservative manner.  It is intended to protect both children and adults from cancer and the other potential toxic effects of these chemicals.

Special Notice for Pregnant Women, Nursing Mothers, and Children

If you are pregnant or a nursing mother, or plan to become pregnant soon, you and children under 6 years of age are sensitive to the effects of contaminants such as mercury.  DNR's guidelines are designed to be protective for these sensitive groups.  In early 2001 the U.S. EPA issued a national advisory recommenting that these sensitive groups limit consumption of all freshwater fish to one meal per week due to mercury.  People may wish to follow U.S. EPA's recommendation, especially in areas where DNR has not tested fish and offered detailed guidelines.  For most other healthy adults, DNR's recommendations may actually be overly conservative.

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